Bullitt East star O’Neill signs with Campbellsville women’s wrestling

Bullitt East wrestler used to competing against the guys signs with Campbellsville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Carley O'Neill did something on Wednesday that a lot of kids in WAVE Country do every year. She signed college scholarship papers.

Carley's scholarship isn't for soccer or volleyball or basketball or softball, it's for wrestling.

"Well when I was in seventh grade, both my older brothers wrestled and my dad was the coach for the high school team and I had to go to all the tournaments and those last like 8 o'clock in the morning until 8 o'clock at night. It was so long and I was so bored sitting there in the stands, so I told my dad, you know, if I have to go, I might as well just go do it," Carley said.

Mom and dad had mixed feelings. Mike was then and still is an assistant coach at Bullitt East High School.

"I actually took it a little bit better than my husband," Carley's mom, Angela remembers.

"I didn't know what to think about that," Mike recalls. "It took me awhile to get used to my daughter being one of those girls that was potentially going to be thrown around and tossed around by a boy on a wrestling mat."

She does a little of her own throwing around too, and sometimes the boys don't see it coming.

"Yeah, you can tell, it's nice too," Carley said. "It's nice too when you can see them over there and they get up and start to warm up and then I get up and start to warm up and you can kind of see them look at you. You can see their teammates look over and they start laughing, joking around doing whatever and then when they go out there and get beat, they're not laughing so much anymore."

Angela says her daughter has a well-earned reputation. "So they know she's competitive, it's not a joke anymore and they don't want to lose to a girl."

"They'll look at their buddies on the side of the mat, and say I got a girl, I'll be right back. Sometimes they do come right back, sometimes they got the outcome they expected, sometimes they got a completely different outcome," Mike said.

Carley says that when she does beat a boy, the crowd goes crazy. "And I've seen one guy pull out his phone and watch his teammate get pinned and record it," she said.

For mom, she has seen both sides. Her two sons also wrestled at Bullitt East, where other girls have been a part of the program.

"As a mom, I want her to beat them. When my boys wrestled girls, I was like, you better not let them beat you," Angela said.

Carley will continue her wrestling career at Campbellsville University. It is one of 52 schools in the country with women's wrestling programs.

"Every state that has sanctioned it, it has doubled every year, It's the fastest growing sport in high school and in college," Campbellsville head coach Lee Miracle said.

Women's wrestling debuted as an Olympic sport in 2004. Who knows, maybe wearing the red, white and blue is in Carley's future.

“What makes her a good wrestler is she uses her brain. Wrestling is not all about strength. You have to be smart,” Angela O’Neill said.

Dad was more direct, "I always say I wouldn't repeat this if you ask me again, but girls, they're very smart, they're very wise, they're cunning and they're flexible."

Why does Carley love the sport? "You're trying to win for your team and you're trying to win for yourself, so I think that's really cool," she said.

Campbellsville won the 2018 WCWA National Championship.

“You just treat them like a wrestler, that’s what they want,” Miracle said.

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